Reverend John Harper

by Brittney from West Virginia

John Harper was born in a town in Scotland in 1872. He was born to Christian parents. He knew and loved God and went to church all of his life.

Sometime after he turned 18, he began preaching on the streets of his town. After a few years of doing that, he was noticed by some Baptist ministers. He was asked to be the minister of a small church that had only 25 members. His church gradually grew larger when people began to realize what a good pastor he was.

After 13 years of preaching at this church, Reverend John Harper moved to London to be a pastor there. On his last Sunday preaching at his church the place was packed, so much so that its seating capacity of 900 was not enough to hold everyone.

He had become such a well-known pastor that he was asked to preach at the Moody Church in Chicago for a few weeks. This "short visit" turned into a three-month long stay in Chicago by the time that he was done.

Rev. John Harper and Nana (
Rev. John Harper and Nana (

Shortly after he returned home, he was again contacted and asked to go to the Moody Church for 3 more months. The people of Chicago loved to hear him preach! He made plans to leave Scotland to go back to Chicago. His original plan was to sail on the Lusitania, but he later decided he wanted to wait a week and sail on the new ship Titanic. On the night of April 14, 1912, the Titanic, big, mighty and invincible as it looked, was taken down by an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As soon as John Harper found out that the ship was sinking, he tried to get his daughter, Nana, onto a lifeboat (he got married, but his wife died shortly after his daughter was born). Since he was the only living parent of his daughter, he could have probably gotten into a lifeboat easily. But instead, he told his daughter goodbye, knowing that it was the last time he would see his daughter on earth. After he walked away from the lifeboat, he gave away his life jacket to another man because he thought it was more important for people who didn’t know God to live than for himself, who had known God all of his life.

He began running all over the ship telling anyone who would listen about Jesus, trying to save them all before it was too late. After the ship sank, he still tried his best to get it through to people that God loved them, while also trying to stay afloat in the freezing water without a life jacket. He died sometime in the middle of that night from hypothermia. He was only 39 years old.

John Harper is my hero because he loved God all of his life, through good times and bad. Even after all he went through that night on the Titanic, he still loved God, even to the end of his life, and he kept trying to tell people about Him.

Page created on 8/28/2011 3:59:49 PM

Last edited 1/9/2017 4:43:04 PM

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Related Links

Reverend John Harper - The Archives Bulletin Board - Wheaton College
Reverend John Harper - Encyclopedia Titanica